How to Revise for Year 4 Exams at King's College London - Written Theory and OSCE
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I’m currently a final year medical student at King’s College London (KCL). From my own experiences, medical school has been a lot of fun, but can be notoriously challenging at times, especially with the numerous exams that have to be sat and passed at the end of each year.



At KCL, the 4th year of medical school marks the clinical specialities year. The specialities year is often thought to be the most challenging year, as it requires learning new theory in the context of new diseases from scratch. KCL splits our learning into four different blocks:

  •  Long Term Conditions (Geriatrics, Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, Dermatology)
  •  Emergency Medicine
  •  Women’s Health (Obstetrics & Gynaecology)
  •  Child Health (Paediatrics)

In this blog post, I will aim to share some tips and tricks to help you revise for your 4th year exams effectively.






Written exams

Although questions change each year, the main topics remain the same. It is important to note that the number of weeks you spend on a speciality is roughly proportionate to the amount of questions that will come up in the exam for that speciality. As an example, students on placements spend comparatively less time on orthopaedics than they do for obstetrics and gynaecology. Hence, more questions are likely to come up for women’s health and so it is important to structure your revision accordingly.



For a comprehensive overview of each of the conditions for each speciality, I used the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialities. This book is quite dense, and so I found it was mainly useful for building upon previous knowledge or if I was looking for more in depth information. For understanding and learning about conditions for the first time, I watched videos on YouTube and Khan Academy as they helped me learn in a more engaging and interactive way, thereby consolidating my learning. Osmosis also do excellent explanatory videos and is another website I would recommend.



For women’s health, I used The Unofficial Guide to Obstetrics & Gynaecology which gives a detailed overview of all conditions and necessary knowledge for this speciality. Some of my colleagues also used another book called Obstetrics & Gynaecology by Lawrence Impey. The RCOG’s Green Top Guidelines are also helpful to look over, particularly the information highlighted in bold as exam questions are sometimes based on these. For sexual health, there are similar sets of guidelines formulated by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), which may also help. Make sure you know the indications of different types of contraception as well as the presentation and treatment of STIs too.



For orthopaedics, it is useful to know about fractures, how they present and how they are managed (e.g. internal fixation, dynamic hip screw or intramedullary nail for hip fractures). Rheumatology and paediatrics can be studied using the Oxford Handbook, and The British Association of Dermatologists give out a free handbook for medical students if you email their admin team. Details can be found on the following link:



For emergency medicine, the Resus Council website is indispensable and provides the most accurate information on how to manage common medical emergencies. The emergencies section at the back of The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is also extremely useful.



The most important addition to all this which all medical students should use is Passmedicine. This is a website which contains an online bank of 5000+ questions related to all of clinical medicine and is displayed in the same format as that of questions that come up in the real exam. This has by far been the most helpful resource in my repertoire of revision aids as it allows me to practise a small number of questions each day and cumulatively build knowledge over time. There is also an online textbook, which automatically opens up after answering each question which helps assimilate knowledge even more readily.


For OSCE revision, I use a website called OSCEStop which is a free online resource for comprehensive notes on medical school finals OSCE exams. I also have a copy of their official OSCE book which covers the same information but in a handheld format, making it easier for me to highlight areas I need to work on. A link to this can be found here:



The most important thing to do however is not just read about the histories and examinations, but practice, practice, practice! This cannot be emphasised enough. We learn and retain so much more by doing rather than reading. For this reason, I always got together with my friends, and we would book a room in the library and practise taking histories and performing clinical examinations on each other every week in the lead up to exams, making sure we cover everything we could possibly get tested on.

Moulage (Emergency Medicine):

  • Perform an A to E assessment (Airways, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure)
  • Be systematic in your approach
  • Ask for relevant investigations
  •  Know the management for common medical emergencies (e.g. anaphylaxis, sepsis, exacerbations of asthma and COPD)

Explaining stations:

  • Take a brief history to begin with
  • Ask the patient what they already know to confirm their understanding
  • Check understanding at regular intervals throughout the discussion
  • Be kind!

Breaking bad news:

  • Take a brief history to begin with
  • Try and get an idea of what the patient is expecting or hoping for
  • Break the news in a clear and succinct manner
  • Give the patient time to absorb the information – silence is key
  • Reassure the patient accordingly and show empathy
  • Offer condolences and ask if there is anything else you can do for them, such as arranging a follow up appointment or the opportunity to speak to someone


I hope that was helpful! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, feel free to check out my other blogs on Remarxs as well as my own personal website, The Dattabase, where I post motivational blogs on life mastery.

Argha Datta - My Profile

Previous blogs:
5 Reasons Medics Should Read
Medical School Application Process
A Day in the Life of a Medical Student
Originally published 05 August 2019 , updated 19/08/2019

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